Wednesday, December 30, 2009
Tuesday, December 29, 2009
Today we'll debut the B and C Teams. Lest we forget, there's no such thing as a bad Laura Kinsale book! The Kinsale awesomeness, it overflows, but it was requested that I rank them in some manner and so I chose to do teams. Click here if you missed out on the A Team.
For clarification I'll explain how a book might not end up on the A Team (you know, those bundles of perfection in book form:). I put any book on the B Team to which I had some sort of reaction that took me out of the story. I don't feel like this is a reflection on the book but on myself as a reader. I put any book on the C Team that I felt had a minor flaw** in craft that took me out of the story.
**flaw in a Kinsale novel???? sgwordy, surely you jest!!!! ^^
And now to the teams:
The B Team (listed in no particular order):
Uncertain Magic - Roderica can read minds which makes her family a bit wary of her and makes her a bit wary of crowds. She's led a relatively sheltered life due to this and is convinced she will follow in the footsteps of her forebears that have had this gift/curse and live isolated with her family. At a horse race she meets the "Devil Earl" and is tickled pink when his mind is closed to her. He's got a reputation to make Lucifer squick but Roderica feels it's her only chance at a family of her own. The "Devil Earl" can't believe a (really! rich) heiress will have him with his reputation but he's jumping at the chance before she can change her mind.
This is a great pairing of protags and Kinsale perfectly captures the doubts these two would have in each other. I really enjoyed watching them develop trust for each other and how hard they worked to rebuild his manor. In fact, I enjoyed the manor building bit so much that the challenges they faced in that became just as heartbreaking for me as the tension between them personally. What took me out of the story is totally spoilerish so highlight if interested: "Devil Earl's" mom was definitely intriguing to me - and I thought made for a great history with the mystery regarding his father - but that she then spent the rest of her son's life following him around causing his blackouts and then pinning nefarious deeds on him was a bit much for me.
My Sweet Folly - Despite herself Folie falls for Robert via their correspondence while he is in India. They have never met in person and it is only by chance that they begin to write. When she is left a widow she has hopes for a possible future with him but there is more to Robert than the whimsy of his letters.
If for no other reason this book must be read for the letters. Holy heroin, they be some major crack! (and the epilogue - sigh:) And I quite enjoyed the mystery of just what the shit was going on with Robert. Folie has a great sense of, well, life really and has such a fun outlook on things that I almost always smiled while she was making her observations on what went on around her. I really liked getting to know more about Robert as he had encounters with the people from his past but the wild plot connections took me out of the story. They weren't contrived, just really ambitious and for some reason weren't smooth for me.
The Hidden Heart - Tess is making her way back to England after years with her father in the Amazon. She's returning to fulfill the promise she made to him before he died of making a good marriage. Captain Gryph is to transport her and her samples home and, bizarrely, is tasked with keeping an eye on her suitors for eligibility. Gryph is a little torn on this as he's quite taken with Tess himself but does not feel he can court her himself. Their friendship grows but is tested when Gryph discourages a match between her and a man Gryph knows to be psychopathic fuckwit.
This is an absolutely sweet love story and I love Tess's determination. Gryph is more inclined to passively take what comes his way but Tess works pretty hard to get what she wants. It's fun to watch her interact with Gryph since they approach situations so differently. What took me out of the story here was Gryph not using his spine when it came to telling Tess about the aforementioned fuckwit. I mean, seriously, this guy was bad news and Gryph let what I would consider a misunderstanding of decidedly non-epic proportions completely floor him when he should have explained about the psychopath.
Shadowheart - The intriguing Allegreto from For My Lady's Heart is back. He's exiled from his home but about to make an aggressive return. Into his path is thrown the Princess Elena. Through her he makes an even bolder claim to his homeland. It turns out Elena is much more than a pawn to be used in political games, she's a woman more than willing to make plans of her own and do whatever it takes to enact those plans.
This book is a total mind-blower. Holy shitballs it will throw you for a loop, and just when you've got your stomach settled it's time for a few more loops. Buckle up, folks, it's safer if you do. I would never have thought there could be a match for Allegreto but Elena is incredible. In fact, there's too much to say about these two so I'm going to let them have their own post (and the illustration of the value of the feminine AND masculine working together in this book is so fucking awesome that that will be part of the other post as well) so for here I'll just say this book only very barely didn't make the A Team. It's a 100% failing on my part as the reader because Kinsale hits it out of the park with the awesome writing and characterization here. Anyway, it was the BDSM that took me out of the story. I didn't think it was offensive or anything, in fact, it was so totally dead-on for the characters that I can't imagine the book in any other way but it still bumped me out of the story.
The C Team:
Midsummer Moon - Absent-minded Merlin is a genius inventor and only wants to be left alone to work on her flying machine. Ransom is one pompous Duke in His Majesty's service with very specific instructions where Merlin is concerned. Merlin really couldn't give two shits for what Ransom says she has to do but after some funny "salt" leaves them in a compromising situation Ransom now has two reasons to officiously order her about.
This is a lighthearted book with, again, two well-matched protags. Their interactions are hilarious and fun, even if the Duke has a corn cob up his butt most of the time. I love how he is constantly ordering Merlin about and she is constantly ignoring him. And the hedgehog pet that Merlin keeps is worth his weight in comedic gold - and might just be the best "hero support" of all time. The supporting characters are fantastic and interesting additions to the story. There's also some wonderfully quotable lines in this book. Merlin has this tendency to make direct and honest observations that really make you stop and think. She's so much fun (I think she and Folie would have been great friends). For all this yumminess, though, the book is too long. Comedy is so much harder to sustain than drama (so extra kudos here for making a comedic romp work) and if the book had been shorter it would have been absolutely bang-up. However, the length makes the plot drag a bit so you want to start skipping to the end.
The Dream Hunter - Zenia has been raised by her eccentric English mother in the desert. She dreams of a home in "green" England and hopes to go there after her mother's death. Without resources she ends up having to guide Lord Winter deep into the desert, somewhere she really doesn't want to go again, in exchange for passage to England. Lord Winter isn't a total dick, Zenia's dressed as a "Bedui boy" as a disguise and so he thinks he's taking a boy of the desert as a guide.
I like Lord Winter as a hero and I think his character is a very interesting contrast with Zenia and his family in England. It's incredible to see the way he faces things in the desert in comparison to how he faces up to his filial obligations at home. Zenia never evened out for me. I found her to be passive with incredible endurance in the desert but when in England she became belligerent and shrill. I couldn't reconcile her earlier passivity with her later obstinacy. Her behavior constantly took me out of the story [Further comments spoilerish so highlight if interested: It's quite possible if she hadn't been so shrill and so damn batshit crazy about the child I might not have found such fault with the inconsistency but batshit crazy due to child is one of my least favorite tropes. Also, her suddenly turning into her mother didn't work for me as an explanation because it had so often been described earlier that she was conditioned to serve due to her upbringing. I think the batshit crazy due to child was supposed to have affected the change but I just didn't buy it].
Sadly, that's the lot of them. *sniff* It's hard to be out of Kinsale... but I can always re-read and her newest, Lessons in French, will be out in February. Can't wait!
[ETA: Actually, I think this will be out the end of Jan so even better!]
I'd also like to take just a moment to send out a cyber THANK YOU to Kinsale for all the hours of enjoyment I've had with her books!
Monday, December 28, 2009
Saturday, December 26, 2009
After many requests from Mr Musacha I'm finally getting to my mass review of Kinsale novels. Since I've spent that last two months completely immersed in reading and rereading (and rereading) her titles it's about time I got around to saying a few words.
First off, there's no such thing as a bad Kinsale book. These things are like crack and just when you think you're free it's suddenly "holy shitballs I didn't notice that the first time around!" I really think it takes two readings to truly understand her characters and sometimes three. It's part of the crack - you're reading going WHY WHY WHY is this character doing that and then it finally comes clear at the end and you have to start reading all over again so as to analyze what you missed the first time around now that motivations have become clear. Ah, lovely!
Within the awesomeness, though, there is a bit of variation. So to divide the novels (and this post) up in a manageable way I'm doing A, B, and C Teams. (anybody else having a flashback to middle school sports?) So without further ado let's get started on the largest of the teams:
The A Team (listed in no particular order).
Flowers from the Storm - A rake of a Duke with mad math skilz suffers a stroke-like ailment resulting in loss of physical coordination and possibly his sanity. In the hospital, Maddy - who has a previous connection with the Duke through the mad math skilz of her father - becomes his nurse. When his family is ready to give up on him she believes he can recover and works hard to assist him in that.
I love these two characters and their relationship with each other. Kinsale portrays the helpless frustration of Jervaulx to such a degree that I felt my limbs stiffening in sympathy when he was trying to perform simple tasks. Further, Maddy's struggle to reconcile her Quaker upbringing with her feelings for the Duke (and his lifestyle) is easily understood and, more importantly, maintains a believable tension between our protags. It's easy to see how the two would see problems in a totally different way and so imagine completely different solutions for those problems. Watching them find a middle ground upon which to connect has brought me back a few times for a re-read.
This book also has one of my all-time favorite lines (quoted loosely): Christian smiled. This was something perfectly familiar - a woman who ought not but very likely would.
The Prince of Midnight - Leigh has lost her family and seeks the skilz that will help her exact revenge. To this end she seeks out the Prince of Midnight, a famous highwayman of the Robin Hood variety. Unbeknownst to her he has suffered a debilitating injury leaving him depressed and isolated. Despite his injury, and Leigh's obvious scorn, the PoM is determined to help her.
I love this book because I fell for the PoM right away - and damn hard - and couldn't figure out what the fuck was up with Leigh. How could she resist this guy? In fact, I was so hardcore fawning over this dude that upon the first reading I felt Kinsale was making Leigh start fights just for the sake of some tension. But that's the beauty of Kinsale, what is sometimes not clear right away to the reader becomes clear as you get to know the characters better. Leigh is way smarter than me! I was totally taken in by the image and the dream world that the PoM maintains but Leigh was one smart cookie. She knew what kind of man he was and the life he would choose over his declarations of love. But since this is the romance world and we know we're getting our HEA, rest assured that our hero comes to see the unsustainability of his dream world. [Spoilerish, highlight if interested: And I love what Leigh needs from our hero. When she asks at the end for him to give her joy again I had a huge smile. It seems like such a small thing but Leigh was so torn after losing her family and the PoM was just the person to revive her joie de vivre].
Seize the Fire - Olympia, raised in England, is the rightful heir to a small kingdom whose people seek independence from the monarchy. She's happy to abdicate her throne but wants to ensure the freedom of her people rather than a family member from taking over the throne. As luck would have it, an acclaimed navy captain has returned home and is her neighbor. She goes on a visit to ask for his assistance, little does she know that he's dead broke, not much of a hero and has no scruples about swindling a princess.
This book is 500 kinds of intriguing because our hero insists on acting decidedly unheroic. He's seen more battles than he ever wished to, knows them for the ugly things they are, and is suffering from PTSD. In fact, he spends most of his time trying to avoid trouble (like a revolution sponsored by the individual being rebelled against) which becomes difficult when Olympia, who is completely naive about the world, trundles after trouble with the innocence of a baby going after shiny objects.
One could argue that our heroine is not much better. She's pretty meek and her naivete makes her gullible but she has a goal and the ability to observe what is going on around her. She is so out of her element that she makes plenty of mistakes and learns slowly but when able she will try to seize a moment to her advantage.
I love this book but I find it a hard read. The weighty subject matter and the challenges our protags face (not least of which are internal) make my little heart ache at times. But the special chemistry between Olympia and Drake make it worth it and I can't stop reading because I just have to get to the HEA.
For My Lady's Heart - Lady Melanthe is trying to orchestrate a daring escape. She's playing her greatest enemies against each other, lying to them both and just trying to reach her home alive. The Green Knight is an accomplished fighter and admired by those around him. When Melanthe sets him against his liege lord he is torn between the loyalties he has set for himself. Banished by his lord, he now finds himself tasked with Melanthe's safe travel but he has no knowledge of her dangerous plans.
Getting to know the Green Knight is an especially compelling part of this book. He seems quite the simpleton compared to the complexity of Melanthe's life and history. But as we get to know him his life and history are as intriguing as that of Melanthe but in a completely different way.
There's nothing fantastical about this book but it holds the most fairy tale like aspect for me of all of Kinsale's books (even when compared to Uncertain Magic - I know, riddle me that!). The English dialogue incorporating Middle English whenever possible lends quite an atmosphere to the reading. Additionally, the Green Knight's code of chivalry puts me in mind of fairy tales and knightly deeds. And now I need to go dig out my copy of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight for a reread.
The Shadow and the Star - Leda's got a bit of a problem. She's an orphan who was taken in for a gently-bred raising but now finds herself without money or the ability to find a respectable job. Luckily (?) an enigmatic gentlemen (who's done a little creepy night prowling) offers her a job as his secretary. She's aware of the endless opportunities for improper interactions and works very hard to avoid them (as she knows full well her erstwhile guardian would have expected) but Samuel practically thumbs his nose at propriety consistently making Leda uncomfortable.
Even if this book wasn't awesome in all ways it would still launch immediately to the A Team for the simple fact that our hero is a Whitey McWhiterson NINJA in Victorian England. NINJA! in Victorian. England. And it works! How is that even possible? Oh it is!
Samuel's history makes for an extremely hard adulthood. He has immense shame over his past and the way he envisions "making up" for something that is not his fault is a little bizarre. He's world-weary and completely naive all at the same time (and a ninja, don't forget that). Wonderfully contrasted by this is Leda. I've heard a lot of people don't care much for Leda as a heroine but I think she kicks all kinds of ass. Her determined straightforwardness and infuriatingly strict etiquette made me laugh out loud more times than I can count. On the surface this makes her pretty simple but like all good romances she's the perfect - the only - heroine that can match our hero. She's loyal, steadfast, observant, sympathetic, loving, honest, and surprisingly flexible when it comes to those around her. You wouldn't think it at first due to her Miss Manners attitude but it's absolutely true. I can see how these characteristics might not come through as the most exciting but if you remember Sammy from The Hidden Heart you know that Leda is exactly what he would need.
And that's my A Team. Check back for the B and C Team post and, in the meantime, find yourself a Kinsale novel to read; it's time well-spent!
Friday, December 25, 2009
Thursday, December 24, 2009
Wednesday, December 23, 2009
Wednesday, December 16, 2009
Monday, December 14, 2009
-sgwordy and family never use all the minutes on their cell phone plan even though they have the lowest one available
-sgwordy and family have record-holding amounts of rollover minutes
-sgwordy and family enjoy texting
-sgwordy has staunch hatred of "text plans" when texts really shouldn't be so expensive and besides she has buttloads of rollover minutes so why can't she trade in any of those
-sgwordy has been pushed to the brink by SPAM texters
[the third person business probably makes the crazy readily apparent]
sgwordy says (incoherently)...
Grrr! Grrr! The whole major fucking fail of the text industry in the US just drives me bonkers. So yet another month goes by where it's clear that we really should have a text plan. This would probably be a good idea regardless but it's mostly because of the junk texts. So yes, now we know these cost money (except for the ones from ATT). So anyway, we went over 5bucks ourselves but then the junk texts made it over 10. This is bullshit so I started doing some research and it appeared that major carriers allowed you to do a number block. So I go to ATT and find this option for them. Turns out the only option they have is a parental control type thing and it costs 5/month to block 10 numbers. So I'm like wtf I may as well get the text plan are you mofos in league with the spammers or what???? So I call to find out my options. The woman I was talking to (yet another great cust rep from ATT - they do have that going) gave me my options but the short of it is there is no option to block these numbers that doesn't cost money. I pretty pleased her to pass along the fuckwittery of this (but in a nicer way) to her superiors but really the only thing to do was get a text plan. Oh but wait! Here's a new way to screw you, Rachel!!! It's 5/month/number so if we both wanted it it would be 10/month. I am so opposed to this as it's ridiculous to pay the money we pay and have the rollover we have and yet have to pay more money for texts (familiar rant I know) so rather than spitting nails and going ape shit on the woman I just selected the text plan for you since you're getting the majority of the junk and send as many or more texts than me. But then, since I ruined the phone you liked and now you are running around with the turd phone you may never use it again. *sigh* cell phone plans are so fucked. they are worse than cable plans.
Thursday, December 10, 2009
Tuesday, December 8, 2009
Sunday, December 6, 2009
Friday, December 4, 2009
As the wife of a dedicated - and successful (even if I do say it myself) - gamer I've often found myself in the position of defending gaming to the non-gaming world. It appears that Kim Sears could have used some of my astute advice on being the partner of a gamer and that Andy Murray isn't going to live this down anytime soon. As I've stated before I am solely a social gamer and a viewer of games over the shoulder of the player. I have little interest in video games as a personal hobby. That being said, I know A LOT about video games. And I know A LOT about how time consuming advanced games can be.
I say advanced to draw a clear line between say, Disney's Bolt and Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare. There are many types of gamers out there and, as a result, there are many types of games. I fully admit that until I went to grad school I thought only kids played video games. My friends and siblings played when I was a kid but then I went to college and didn't happen to meet any gamers. This didn't strike me as odd because I assumed it really was only kids that played. Fast forward a few years and I found myself in grad school hanging out with adults that played video games! Wha?????? It struck me as odd. I soon came to realize though that the games my friends were playing when I was a kid were games for kids. Video games were a new enough market - and a market mostly geared towards young people - using newish technology that adults weren't necessarily a part of. So confusing story made plain: when I was a kid the adults around me had not grown up with video games but now, as an adult, a lot of the adults around me grew up playing video games. The industry grew up with them.
When I was 15 games as advanced as Call of Duty 4 or The Orange Box would only have been wishes in someone's imagination. We have the technology for these games now and the advanced systems to support them. And these really aren't games for kids. Advanced games feature complicated challenges and subtle plots. The best have awesome model rendition, beautiful scenery, excellent dialogue and engaging stories. The best are like interactive movies. They are stories that the gamer can be a part of. Now that is something I can definitely get on board with! For me, though, I prefer to have that type of experience with a book.
Yes, that's right. I have just equated a good video game with a good book.
Actually a good video game might even qualify as a little more challenging than a good book. When I've got a great book in my hands all I have to do is read and use my imagination. I don't have to try to coordinate buttons and joysticks with random bogeys jumping out of corners. It's a different way to interact with a story but an active interaction regardless.
Along with a defense of video games I should probably throw in a defense of real life. It's not productive to lose your real life to your hobbies. I should know, I have a ton of hobbies and find myself going through phases of wanting to hole up in the house (or at the horse barn) and indulge in those hobbies at the expense of deadlines, errands, and other pesky real life responsibilities. But then I remember that real life is fun, too, and it's good to get out and live it.
So, Ms. Sears, don't forget that our generation is a generation of gamers. And Mr. Murray, don't forget to enjoy real life. And finally, Nosy Public, let's assume that a mere hobby is not enough to break up a couple.
Thursday, December 3, 2009
I enjoy patronizing my local bookstore. It's nice to meander around downtown then slip in the bookstore and browse around. In the spirit of 'shop local' I like to buy books there when I can. The day clerk has become a fascinating study for me. It's become abundantly clear that he doesn't like people much but now I'm starting to wonder if he even likes books.
As a book lover and buyer I tend to make small bookish chit-chat when purchasing a book. It's mostly to be friendly but also to get any feedback from the clerk regarding the title if she knows it, or similar authors if she has recommendations. I buy books in almost every genre so even if one particular purchase doesn't interest the store clerk I usually cycle around to something that will get her attention. Not so with my current enigma, hence my now wondering if he even likes books.
I do think that he's got me trained now. Come in, browse, ask for titles if I don't see them, use as few words as possible and avoid - at all costs - any comments that might be construed as outside the heading of business. Examples: how are you, have a nice day, have you read this book, do you know this author, etc.
Even Mr Musacha, unchattiest of the unchatties, would not be this reticent if, say, he worked in a video game store and someone asked about a game. So I can only assume that the above described clerk does not actually like books even though he works in a bookstore.
Research will continue. Must plan strategic phrases that may tempt him out of his people/book hating cocoon.
Wednesday, December 2, 2009
I thought the movie was really well done. I give it a very high recommendation not only on its merits as a movie but as an introduction to an important part of American history. I say introduction because, like many other movies based on real events, the Great Debaters parts company from true history for inexplicable reasons. The essence of the story is there but for whatever reason the movie makers decided to make changes that I saw no need for. It's interesting to me when this happens because it's often something that seems to make very little difference. It would be just as interesting and easy to tell the true story but instead changes are made. Hollywood! I'll never understand it.
Regardless though, it's a movie worth seeing and a topic well worth researching. Also, I had not heard of Tolson before and I look forward to looking into his writing.
Monday, November 30, 2009
Q - What is the basic storyline of Hitman and do you think the plot of the movie captured it well?
A - The Hitman games star Agent 47, a highly skilled assassin with a perfect record in the field. He was trained since childhood by a company called "The Agency", who have no specific national or political affiliations. Agent 47 doesn't make specific contact with The Agency itself (nobody knows where it's located), but rather gets his missions through a handler named Diana who talks to him via a network connection on his briefcase/laptop. The games usually follow a series of his missions, and there's often some overarching plot that he has to solve as well. For example, in Hitman: Blood Money, the Agency is under attack by a rival company called "The Franchise". Everyone in the Agency is wiped out except for 47 and Diana, so he has to determine who is controlling this new company and eliminate their top assassin.
I think they did a pretty good job of capturing the Hitman plot. The big difference is that 47 was genetically engineered from the DNA of five great killers in the games, and he was ultimately betrayed by the scientist that created him. In the movie, they were orphans and he was betrayed by his company. The change didn't bother me, since it would have taken a lot of dialogue to explain the soft-science in the game.
Q - What did you think of the casting?
A - Loved it...I thought that might have been one of the strongest parts of the movie. That Olyphant dude looks EXACTLY like 47, and they got the costumes right as well.
Q - Did Agent 47 behave in ways you would expect based on the game?
A- For the most part, yes. Agent 47 doesn't talk much in the games, but I concede that wouldn't work in the movie. They still managed to keep his dialogue minimal. The deadpan humor from the games is definitely present, and a big part of the games is stealing uniforms to infiltrate restricted access areas, which he does in the film.
Q - I felt his gadgets were underused in the movie. You got to look at them a lot but not actually see 47 using them. What type of gadgety mischief are you able to get up to in the game?
A - Gadgets (and guns) are a big part of the games. Though they didn't emphasize his gadgets in the movie, if you played the games and kept a sharp eye out during the movie you'd see a lot of familiar equipment. He uses the fiber wire to choke a guy out and the movie starts with him using a remote mine. He also uses some kind of knockout injection on Nika...you get knockout and poison syringes in the game. Most of the gadgets are used for either silently eliminating guards or for making assassinations look like an accident.
Q - Does a character like Nika exist in the game? If so, did she translate to the screen well?
A - Actually yes. In Hitman: Contracts, Agent 47 rescues a woman named Mei-Ling from a crime lord's brothel so he can get information about his target. He later ends up saving her from another brothel and she kisses him. But Nika was a much bigger part of the movie than Mei-Ling was in the game, and I thought it was a good change. If for no other reason, they needed a character that would be more naturally inclined to TALK!
Diana is also accurately portrayed in the movie as the woman who talks to him on the computer. And there's an obscure character named Agent Smith, a CIA agent who assists the Agency, who was also in the movie. [Mr M provided more info on Smith but it's spoilerish, highlight if you're still interested: He was the guy who does a "favor" for 47 by helping him escape at the end].
Only that I really enjoyed both the movie and the game, so I'm pretty excited to get a crack at Hitman 5 when it comes to the Xbox 360.
Thanks for taking the time to answer a few questions!
Sunday, November 29, 2009
It's based on a video game of the same name. My memories of watching this game are few, mostly it was hotel corridors, cool camera shots, and the awesome music. As far as I can tell it was a good adaptation of the game...but maybe I'll pose a few questions to my in-house gaming expert for more details on that...
Anyway, the movie is excellent in its own right. The casting is great, the action is fun, the plot holes are few (being based on a video game we'll give it a little leeway here), and the obligatory beautiful woman is a totally awesome character and well matched in looks by Agent 47. My quibbles are so few with the movie that I don't even want to go into them. I'd rather gush over the great script, the awesome way the director was able to evoke the game with the great screen shots, and the dead-on ending.
Rumor is they will be making more films. I'll definitely be there to see them. I'm not sure it's the same writer though so I hope the next script is still good!
from the game:
from the movie:
Wednesday, November 25, 2009
huggy bunch hat tip
Tuesday, November 24, 2009
Saturday, November 21, 2009
You know I adore you! You know you have my undying, unconditional devotion. But, seriously, what was up with the game management in the last few minutes of today's game? I had several mild heart attacks and all for naught. But props to your players, they never gave up!
Friday, November 20, 2009
Wednesday, November 18, 2009
The movie tells of a covert operation in Afghanistan in the early 80s that helped to repel Soviet occupation of the region. The story is extremely compelling and the acting more than serviceable but what really blew my skirt up was Mike Nichols' directing. Holy shite, it was like the man had a string that was connected to my head and my heart which he could pull on gently saying, "I want them here!" And I was with him the whole way.
Charlie Wilson doesn't exactly have the typical personality one imagines for a humanitarian. Mirroring that, the movie doesn't have the typical attitude of cinema geared towards social commentary. It's earnest for sure but not sentimental or a straight-up satire. Really, it's a brand new way of looking at a story and it rocked my socks. I didn't know if I should laugh, cry, or bang my head against a wall until it was bloody. Weird, I know, but you've got to trust me on this one and see the movie.
Charlie Wilson said, "These things happened. They were glorious and they changed the world...and then we fucked up the end game."
And for those of you following sgwordy's unofficial, impromptu, and arguably not well thought out series on humanitarian issues I think this goes right along with it.
Yes, the Nog owns me as well. I'm quite certain it's ill-advised to consume something until you get sick but with the Nog there is no choice. I just can't stop!
Can't even imagine the crack high I could get if I sipped (read: chugged) a glass of good ole Nog whilst reading the last of Kinsale's books. ah, sweet bliss.
note: when i've finished all her books i'll post a mass review for them so check back later if you want more details on crack in book form
Monday, November 16, 2009
and my simple mind is all agog at being able to watch the water come to a boil on my gas stove in a glass container. Ah, the simple life!
Now if I can just get some parafilm in my kitchen then we're all set!
Saturday, November 14, 2009
I'm relieved to see that our assassins continue to use such tactics as conspicuous dress and death of at least 3 additional people for each target. Clearly this was not an aberration of Altair's and I have high hopes that Ezio will continue it. Course, if I had an awesome outfit like that I wouldn't bother to try and hide it either.
Friday, November 13, 2009
Here are a couple screen shots from (to review) Prince of PERSIA:
And here are some shots of the stars from the movie (lest we forget) Prince of PERSIA:
Now, as one of the whitest Americans of Western European descent around it's not like I'm Ms. Ethnicity but what's with the ridiculous whitewashing?
For shame, Ubisoft and Disney!
It's a real bummer too as the movie looks pretty cool but I vote with my buck and my buck doesn't support shit like this!
As a dog owner myself I have some idea as to their tendencies and how one goes about having a home open to dogs. Admittedly, I have stricter expectations of my dogs than other dog owners but I don't find that to be a big deal. If you want the kind of dog that jumps on you, dirties your furniture, and basically runs rough shod over your home fine, it's your dog, it's your prerogative to have any kind of dog that you choose. But when your explanation for tolerance of a dog getting more space in your bed than you do is "I just hate the thought of my dog feeling bad" that's when I know it actually has nothing to do with the dog. That immediately tells me that you are not thinking about the nature of a dog but anthropomorphizing. You've just given your dog your own value system.
Don't get me wrong, I fully understand that dogs can find infinite joy in bounding upon their owners, claiming each soft, comfy spot in the house as their own and basically owning their owners. I also understand that a dog doesn't feel bad when it has rules. Dogs live by rules, they live by having a leader and knowing where they belong in the pack. Whether they run the pack or live by a certain set of rules within the pack they are just as happy; they understand the rules and live by them. That is happiness for a dog.
So as I was thinking about this it got me to wondering what kind of Bleeding Heart I am. Is the difference between Lite and Extra-strength understanding the difference between your own value system and that of others? Let's think of those spiders I catch as a simple example. Does BH Extra-Strength leave the spider in place to avoid making it feel bad and then BH Lite thinks, spiders like to build webs in my front yard so why don't I put it out there? I'm not totally sure, and I bet the various types of Bleeding Hearts have widely different views on spiders (they are creepy and crawly after all) but this got me thinking even more (don't worry, I'll lie down for a rest soon so as not to over-tax the brain) and my mind started to spiral around to that thorny issue of humanitarian issues that we here at sgwordy have visited before.
Since the self is a person's most consistent point of reference I think (pun?) it's a most human tendency to assume that what is good for us is good for others. In fact, if there's one thing I've learned in the fun that is traveling the world it's that we're all more alike than you'd think. At the end of the day, we want health, happiness, safety, diversion, and security for our families. But even amidst these most binding of common traits humans are vastly different. Our value systems are extremely diverse and shaped by culture, tradition, environment, terrain, availbility of resources, politics, education, religion, the list goes on... And it is those differing value systems that can so often muck up our ability to truly relate to and unite with our global compatriots.
And so from this winding road in my brain that started with hearing someone talk about letting their dog have most of the bed and analyzing my own bleeding heart tendencies as they relate to spiders, I have reached this conclusion: it is good to understand various value systems.
I know, very profound - and stated with such verve and eloquence. Let's take a moment.
In seriousness we must go one step further. Not only do we need to understand the value systems of those around us but we need to understand that they have as much worth and legitimacy as our own. I wonder how many of my interpersonal interactions might have been different if I'd always remembered this?
Is this taken into consideration when implementing humanitarian relief? Is this understood by my own beloved government when stomping about with a gun in someone else's country? Was not understanding this the root of empirial colonialism? The cause of modern colonialism?
Oof, I think I need that rest now!
Zack Snyder was having none of that! He says - sgwordy, you think that's a bad movie? You think Ang Lee's got anything on me in the making overlong movies department? Ha! Naive woman! Let me present to you, Watchmen!
sgwordy responds - Oh no, no, Zack, please spare us a Hulk rival! Really, it's not necessary.
ZS (gravely) - Oh but it is!
And bring it he did, with a vengeance!
Long for no reason? check
Filled with inexplicable events? check
Long periods of what can only be called narration? check
In fact, ZS took it one step further by commiting one of sgwordy's top crimes - ugly guys, hot women (the term women is barely needed as there were only two women). We ladies only got one respite from the uggies and Billy Crudup was blue and glowing most of the time. However, he has an excellent voice so I would say he was the best casting they did to give Blue Guy a nice voice.
One of the most amazing things is that Mr Musacha and I skipped several chapters and the movie still felt like one of the longest exeriences of my life.
And the ending! Ugh, spare me your obvious delight in thinking this is the first time this idea has been thought of and implemented in the arts. Please! I watched that whole movie just for that? They could have at least tried something original to make it worth it. And did anyone not see the bad guy coming? He broadcasted his badness in every way except tattooing it on his forehead (jury is still out on whether or not that would have improved his looks).
And one last gripe before I leave off this tirade. When the Young Hot Woman and Blue Guy were on Mars (I think?) with the super cool glass (again, I think???) contraption and Blue Guy had his huge revelation about all events leading to the miracle that was Young Hot Woman thus making him change his mind, go back, blah blah blah...I think I puked a little in my mouth. Not only is that line cheap and tired I didn't find it at all in line with his character. And I couldn't help but wonder if he would have felt the same way had she been ugly and not a superhero. And also, am I supposed to have a bunch of sentimental feeling for the two of them when he cheated on his old partner to be with her? Whatev!
I've heard the graphic novel is better so maybe I'll try it sometime, though I'm not very good at reading graphic novels. For some reason I have trouble processing visual storytelling with written storytelling. Odd, I know, but so it is.
Thursday, November 5, 2009
Friday, October 30, 2009
The Before and After photos totally crack me up. What do you think the direction was on that? "Hmmm, I think we need that a little deeper in, if you'll just...you know..." (hand gesturing) "Ah, that's better, much more camel toey!"
And "send her one anonymously?" haha and hehe!!! Does everyone I know already own one of these or do I just not spend enough time staring at crotch on the beach? I can't think of a single person to whom this should be sent...except as a super-awesome joke! Classic!
Lastly, in what situation, pray tell, is camel toe attractive "if you are a Guy?" Caps on 'guy' belong to the site. Am unclear on the difference between a 'Guy' and a 'guy.'
Guys, weigh in for me, what's this camel toe thing mean to you?
And has anyone made an anonymous gesture lately?
(hat tip: THE tot)
Go ahead, try it! The clothing selections are fairly limited so it won't take up too much of your time!
Friday, October 23, 2009
When I called, my friend had just left a lecture. I asked how it was and she said terrible. Apparently, it was a bunch of presenters that got up to reminisce over the wondrous history of their organization and other sundry delights of their careers. It was not so much a lecture as an Ole Boys Club meeting to boast about the Old Days.
Oh sure, I know exactly what you mean, says I. You go for the interesting chatter but then you realize all they're going to do is jizz on the stage. She's like, yeah absolutely, it's was just like that! Quick and clever that friend of mine as she then proceeded to clearly describe how you know for sure that you got jizzed, "It just went on and on and on and I didn't come once!"
Sadly, I most commonly get jizzed watching sporting events. I'm sitting there, enjoying the game - maybe noshing some tasty bbq - and then the announcers start jizzing all over the booth over some player or coach or whatever. Rather than intelligent commentary on the player, game, organization it's just jizz, jizz, jizz EVERYWHERE! The worst of it is, after said jizzfest the announcers more often than not turn on the player in the very next quarter/inning/period. Ugh! I wish we had mute buttons advanced enough to cut off the announcers but keep the crowd.
So, have you been jizzed lately?
Friday, October 16, 2009
Sure, the first answer is "not much" but I think we'll all agree that Ancient Oriental Secrets can definitely go on that short list. As a Southerner and a former Georgia resident, it's beyond me how the Big Green Egg barbeque has only just come to my attention (and in the West, no less!) but Mr M and I just got back from purchasing our medium size Egg. Using the aforementioned Ancient Oriental Secrets this grill is reputed to be top notch. A quick youtube search yields inumerable videos of people using and loving their Green Egg.
Anybody else using the Egg? Favorite recipes?
Wednesday, October 14, 2009
I've always been interested in military history and the books/movies it inspires. What I find especially compelling about the events in Mogadishu is how they highlight the extremely complicated layers of humanitarian missions. In the age of the Global Society very few corners are dark. We have such a wealth of information at our disposal, and the ability to access events almost immediately after they occur, that it becomes hard to ignore the lives and actions of our Worldwide Compatriots. But on a planet where the Have Nations and the Have-not Nations can seem worlds apart in their technological capabilities and infrastructure, how do we bridge the gap to bring basic services to those that need them? This question is daunting enough and I haven't even mentioned the social or political ramifications involved in trying to give aid. Nor does this question address whether or not interference is the right thing to do.
In Somalia, starvation was rampant. It all started because people wanted to help. People wanted to bring food to those that needed it -they wanted to supply the most basic service, nutrition. It sounds so simple but I've learned that so few humanitarian issues are simple. In this case, the desire to provide food led to outright battle. On the surface it's hard to understand why and if you don't look at the layers you'll never understand. In this case there was politics, civil war, starvation, power struggles, the arms business, and more than I'll ever know not being Somali or, for that matter, any kind of expert on the region.
The point that I'm trying to make, and that Black Hawk Down illustrates so well, is that humanitarian issues are not one problem, one solution issues. I wish I had some sort of brilliant idea to share with the world on this but, again, I'm no kind of expert. I do have one idea, though, and that's to not keep making the same mistakes. What happened in Somalia was not a new problem, and it's not a solved problem. And it's not a problem limited to Somalia. But time and again I see these events played out, especially those that involve military (US or UN) force: people are suffering, they need "x," bring "x" to them, if necessary shoot those that interfere. If the cost, whether monetary or human, becomes too high we bail.
My armchair analysis feels a bit conceited and impotent. After all, what the shit do I know? But then, what the shit do the people in charge know if we have to do this over and over again? Is it poor planning at the outset? Is it better left to NGOs? Is it an impossible problem? Is it even our problem? But can we really sit back and watch people suffer? History tells us no on that last question and there's certainly no easy answer to the others.
One thing that, as an American, I would implore the public and the government to understand is that the solution is not cheap. It costs money, it costs lives - ours and theirs - and we can't keep running when that cost increases. If we won't see it to the end, we shouldn't begin. We Americans have a tendency to poke our fingers into as many pies as we can and then when the pie gets cold we bail. I think it is certain that that is not the solution.
So I definitely recommend learning more about this historical event. It's a timely topic and one that continues to be a part of international relations. Along this same vein, and at one point overlapping with the events in Mogadishu, is another book called Emergency Sex (and Other Desperate Measures): True Stories from a War Zone by Cain, Postlewait, and Thomson.
My review of Black Hawk Down written in Sept '08:
Black Hawk Down recounts a mission by Task Force Ranger into Mogadishu, Somalia which occurred in October of 1993. What was intended to be a one hour mission to capture a warlord’s top lieutenants became an overnight urban battle after two Black Hawk helicopters were shot down.
Mark Bowden presents a strict account of the Battle of the Black Sea but its style is one of real-time drama. Through extensive interviews and research (much, if not all, of the 15 hour event was captured on video and audio), MB was able to recount the battle from the perspective of the soldiers on the ground. Even though the reader is treated to an almost minute-by-minute, factual account, this book reads much like a fiction novel. Excellent pacing and genuine suspense is created without disservice to real events or needless over-dramatization.
MB did an excellent job of creating the emotional environment of the depicted events. The attitudes of US soldiers and the Somalis are presented without judgment. In fact, this was a strong point of the book. Very often authors fall into the trap of setting the reader up to have a particular reaction to events or characters but MB was careful to allow the reader to come to their own conclusions.
This leads into the one, very small complaint I had about the book. I would have enjoyed a more extensive exploration of the events and politics that led up to this battle. A short history is provided within the context of the story but I would have enjoyed more detail. However, I do not believe that was the intent of the book which may have been why more details weren’t included.
I give this book a very high recommendation. The story is a very interesting part of modern US history and MB recounts the event as truthfully as possible while maintaining an easy-to-read style.
SPOILER WARNING: The following section WILL reveal key plot points.
This warning may not be needed for a non-fiction book recounting a non-classified military exploit that has since been made into a film. Nonetheless, the warning remains.
One of the most interesting parts of the book for me was the capture of a Black Hawk pilot by a group of Somalis. The importance of a captured US soldier, and which group could afford to keep him, was something I had not thought of before. It was also interesting to read the account of the interactions between the captured pilot and the man who cared for him. After the unrest that was deliberately incited by rebels (creating mobs of civilians) the relative quiet of captivity was surprising and, again, not what I would have thought.
Tuesday, October 13, 2009
In the spirit of full disclosure and all that BS I should say that I think Resident Evil: 4 is one of the best games ever made. It ranks up there with Portal and Tales of Symphonia so obviously not just any sequel would be able to live up to that kind of expectation. But still! Did Resident Evil: 5 have to be a failure of jizzwadian proportions? Resident Evil: Leon is itself a sequel so clearly the creators have it in them to step up their game but instead they took a step down, a very HUGE step down.
First off, Chris Redfield is no Leon S. Kennedy. I don't just say that as one who is slightly more attached to Leon than any normal person really ought to be but as one who is genuinely alarmed at the size of Redfield's biceps. Seriously, his upper arms are probably equal in circumference to my thighs! And that neck, it's larger than his head - lay off the 'roids, Dude, it's not like you're employed by mlb! And when he moves around he sounds like a well-armed waterbed. Subtlety? Stealth? No thanks! If Bag-head Chainsaw Guy comes after me I'll just stick my neck out, no way anything's getting through that!
Second off, RE5 is not scary. Not once have I jumped. Not once have I seriously wondered how Redfield and Sheva will get through a scene. And, to tell you the truth, I don't even care...leading us to...
Third off, what the crap is going on? The plot, such as it is, is so lame! After the completion of various scenarios like "find Irving, parts 1-4," a cut scene - usually taking place somewhere else or in someone else's memory - pops up to justify the yo-yo storyline. Cheap! The story doesn't flow at all because you're continually being fed information in a jilty and unnatural way.
Fourth off, the unending waves of zombies get really old when the scary is missing. If all you have to do is pick up ammo and point your gun at more zombies than I think would even fit in Africa (btw, where are they in Africa? anyone recognize that cave as anything resembling something that might be real?) what is the point?
Resident Evil is supposed to be scary and mysterious. This iteration is boring and slightly dizzying due to the weird skewing of the camera over Redfield's shoulder. But since I only watch and do not play I will not comment on camera angles. Maybe it's helpful to the gamer.
So if you're thinking about picking up RE5 to play (or watch:) I suggest pulling out RE: Leon again and doing something worth your time.
You'd think after this the lesson would be learned but I still can't get Assassin's Creed 2 out of my head!!! And the new trailer is soooooooooo pretty!
Initial thoughts are that I like Altair's name and accent better but I'll hold out, maybe Ezio will change my mind next month.
Monday, October 12, 2009
And if not, how would you describe their current status? ;)
Do you think it was the force of the crash that, er, forced them out? And where did the fiver come from?
hat tip: Mr Musacha
Thursday, October 8, 2009
Monday, October 5, 2009
Friday, October 2, 2009
Thursday, October 1, 2009
Other links of interest as relate to book challenges:
A librarian's response
Thoughts on the need for this week
Stats on challenges
The best thing about living in a free country is the worst thing about living in a free country. We are all free!
We are all free to live, learn, express, vote, and protest. That means that we often disagree, but it should never mean that our freedom is worth more the freedom of anyone else. We are all free!
Monday, September 28, 2009
Watching the emotions on Brian Kuh's face alternate between almost crying and wanting to push an arcade machine on top of Wiebe was priceless! That poor bastard couldn't hide his emotions for shit and this viewer thanks him for it. And the sycophants around Billy Mitchell were like a bad high school movie about the "cool kids" dumping all over the new guy [Wiebe].
Truth really is stranger than fiction! And in any case I don't think anyone has the imagination to make something like this up. It's like that guy that has a houseful of boxes full of his farts, you just can't make up stuff like that! Who would even think to?
Sunday, September 27, 2009
Friday, September 25, 2009
Tuesday, September 22, 2009
Caris from World Without End by Ken Follett
It's certainly not a new idea but one worth repeating.
Passing stranger! you do not know
How longingly I look upon you,
You must be he I was seeking,
Or she I was seeking
(It comes to me as a dream)
I have somewhere surely
Lived a life of joy with you,
All is recall'd as we flit by each other,
Fluid, affectionate, chaste, matured,
You grew up with me,
Were a boy with me or a girl with me,
I ate with you and slept with you, your body has become
not yours only nor left my body mine only,
You give me the pleasure of your eyes,
face, flesh as we pass,
You take of my beard, breast, hands,
I am not to speak to you, I am to think of you
when I sit alone or wake at night, alone
I am to wait, I do not doubt I am to meet you again
I am to see to it that I do not lose you.
Monday, September 21, 2009
Have you seen that moon-faced kid?
that burned out halo hangs right above his head
it's so hard not to be crushed
when you're praying for too much
and the stars refuse to shine for you
they do it just to spite
well they know you're trying to hard
hoping for a little more than just another kiss goodnight
your face is full and paved with lines
your hair's receding fast and so is your mind
and that lazy eye won't budg
cuz you're praying way too much
and don't take that pill
your head will swell
you'll only be king once
you'll only be king
smile, please smile
I just want you happy
smile, please smile
I just want you happy
and the stars refuse to shine for you
they do it just to spite
well they know you're trying too hard
smile, please smile
I just want you happy
smile, please smile
I just want you happy
I just want you happy
I just want you happy
Wednesday, September 2, 2009
Only 5'6?? Only a size 6??? How freakish! It must be weird and horrible to be that small!
What do you call a person that speaks 2 languages?
What do you call a person that speaks 1 language?
And boy howdy I iz a good American!
# of languages attempted by sgwordy: 3
# of languages mastered by sgwordy: 1
Apparently I only go wordy in English. ;)
Thursday, August 27, 2009
Her name is Noel
I have a dream about her
She rings my bell.
I got gym class in half an hour,
Oh how she rocks
In Keds and tube socks..
But she doesn't know who I am.
And she doesn't give a damn about me
Cuz I'm just a teenage dirtbag, baby
Yeah I'm just a teenage dirtbag, baby
Listen to Iron Maiden, baby...with me. Ooh.
Her boyfriend's a dick
He brings a gun to school
He'd simply kick my ass if he knew the truth.
He lives on my block
And drives a iRoc
And he doesn't know who I am
And he doesn't give a damn about me
cuz I'm just a teenage dirtbag baby
Yeah, I'm just a teenage dirtbag baby.
Listen to Iron Maiden, baby...with me. Ooh.
No she doesn't know what she's missin'.
man I feel like mold
It's prom night and I am lonely lo and behold
She's walkin' over to me this must be fake
My lip starts to shake
How does she know who I am?
Why does she give a damn about me?
I've got two tickets to Iron Maiden, baby.
Come with me Friday, don't say maybe.
I'm just a teenage dirtbag, baby...like you. ooh.
No she doesn't know what she's missin'.
Tuesday, August 25, 2009
To make myself feel better I drink excellent Strawberry Orange juice.
Monday, August 17, 2009
Friday, August 14, 2009
Tired of hearing well-meaning friends say, “It is the will of God,” he responded with this: “My own consolation lies in knowing that it was not the will of God that Alex die. That when the waves closed over the sinking car, God’s heart was the first to break.”
Tuesday, August 11, 2009
I came by this line (imagine a tongue not a dental device):
"He delved into the hidden recesses of her mouth"
and was overwhelmed by a case of the giggles. I mean, how big is this mouth? How many recesses could it have and where the bloody hell could they possibly be hidden? I had my wisdom teeth out several years ago and that left me with some recesses but they weren't hidden and I don't think anyone was going to go probing them. Weird and ew.
But then, not three paragraphs later, I read this little gem and just about died:
"His lips milked her lobe..."
His lips? milked? her lobe?
MILKED! her lobe!
Not as refreshing as a cold shower but it gets the same results. I figured this was a sign to stop reading.
Normally I would be annoyed to have wasted my time on a book but I feel my life has been enriched by this opportunity to scoff at recess probing and lobe milking. Ah, teh satisfaction!
btw, for those wondering that was an ear lobe
Sunday, August 9, 2009
I also find Ally McBeal to be a lot like Scrubs. They'd be so good if it wasn't for the main character/narrator.
The thing about the Biggest Douchebag Ever characteristic is that he brings down the crowd. So Georgia, who is definitely cool, and Ally, who shows flashes of coolness and is sometimes funny, are completely dragged into the muck for even looking at Billy much less loving him. Billy deserves to live under shit for 5 years but his shenanigans wouldn't go anywhere if those around him weren't hit with the stupid stick every time he walks in a room. And for fuck's sake, he's not even good-looking! What were the writers thinking? This is the reason I stopped watching the show. But because I can skip over Douchebag and Ally's drama and get right to super-awesome Ling I'm trying to keep on keeping on. If I recall correctly Billy dies so there must be some justice in the show.
Friday, August 7, 2009
Just off to check out who made Hitman (video game not movie, though I like them both) because that's another one that I can't resist visually.
Monday, August 3, 2009
Tuesday, July 28, 2009
Thursday, July 23, 2009
Wednesday, July 22, 2009
Thursday, July 16, 2009
In this case, for me, it's an author. I am not at all a fan of Bill Bryson. It's weird because I love travel and humorous portrayals of people and places. If I'm not mistaken (and I couldn't be since he's been recommended to me so many times) that is exactly what Bryson writes. But holy hell I can't even finish one of his books! I believe I've tried three at this point.
Lucky for Mr. Bryson most people do not feel the same way I do. In fact, I've only met one other person that does not enjoy his writing. Lucky for me there are way more books than can ever be read in a lifetime. No need to dither about on authors I don't enjoy.
And so adieu, Mr. Bryson. I am not trying any more of your books. You certainly will not miss me, your book sales are doing just fine. Wishing you success in all you write!
Saturday, July 11, 2009
I am looking for a room, arriving 15 August and departing 18 August. Do you have any available?
Thanks for your help.
Unfortunately we can only offer you a choice of August 14,15 or 16th.
A full choice of our three rooms is however available on each of these nights.
Should this be of interest to you, please email us asap, as we are experiencing a very high demand for rooms and would not like to disappoint you.
Tuesday, July 7, 2009
I thought Mr M was playing a game but when I looked at the screen it was more like an animated movie (think Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within). Cool, I thought, let's see what this business is all about. And that's when I first saw Leon. He's driving around in this jeep looking a bit dejected (but oh so dreamily determined) with a couple other guys and then bad shit starts to happen. But it was totally cool bad shit and I was immediately sucked into the game. So much so that Mr M was kind enough to not play the game unless I was around to watch.
Regardless of how awesome Leon is (or how much better I would be for him than Ashley or the lady in the red dress) Resident Evil: Leon is the best video game ever made! and that's coming from someone whose played Tales of Symphonia!
btw, is that a balrog?